Saturday marks the end of Fire Prevention Week. But did you prepare your family for disaster?

Saturday marks the end of Fire Prevention Week. But did you prepare your family for disaster?
In a house fire, you could have as little as two minutes to safely make it out of your home, fire officials say. (Source: Live 5/File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The annual observance of National Fire Prevention Safety Week wraps up Saturday.

Authorities have been pushing all week for people to make the time to prepare their family and property with simple steps that shouldn’t take a great deal of time. But the reality is that despite the reminders, some people may still miss the message.

The South Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal reports that as of Oct. 10, there have been 48 fire fatalities in the state in 2019. Approximately 88 percent of those fatalities happened in house fires.

Many of the reminders centered on smoke alarms.

“Home fires are most often caused by cooking and heating equipment, and we want everyone to stay safe," American Red Cross Palmetto Region CEO Louise Welch-Williamson said. "Please install and test smoke alarms on every level of your home and practice your escape plan until everyone can get out in two minutes or less.”

The Red Cross has a page on its website of home fire safety resources. The organization urges everyone to test your smoke alarms and practice your family’s plan to get out safely:

  • Include at least two ways to get out of each room in your home fire escape plan.
  • Select a meeting spot at a safe distance away from your home, such as your neighbor’s home or landmark like a specific tree in your front yard, where everyone can meet.
  • Practice your escape plan until everyone can get out in two minutes or less.
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, placing them inside and outside bedrooms, and sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarms monthly, and change the batteries at least once a year, if your model requires it.

The Red Cross says home fires claim seven lives daily in the United States, and that those fatalities most often occur in homes without working smoke alarms.

Authorities urge families to make sure they have an escape plan and that all members of the family understand what to do.

The North Charleston Fire Department suggests creating a meeting place a safe distance from your home that is visible at night. They suggest picking an object that can’t be easily moved, like a tree or mailbox, so that everyone can find it quickly.

Time is of the essence. The National Fire Protection Association says today’s homes burn faster than ever and you could have as little as two minutes to escape a burning house.

You can find their fire prevention checklist here.

Since 1922, the NFPA has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country.

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